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#10 Tennessee in town on Thursday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
#10 Tennessee in town on Thursday

ABOUT THE LADY VOLS: The defending national champions arrive in Fayetteville Thursday in the middle of a youth movement. Freshman Shekinna Stricklen leads the team with 13.5 ppg with “veteran” Angie Bjorklund — a sophomore — next with 12 ppg. Another freshman, Glory Johnson, rounds out the double digit scorers with 11.8 ppg. MAYBE THURSDAY IS YOUTH NIGHT: Arkansas had several youth day promos Sunday with Auburn, but as far as the court goes, youth night is with Tennessee. Pat Summitt’s 2008-09 team might be the youngest she’s had in several years, and with four freshmen projected in the starting lineup is one of the few teams in the SEC that is actually less experienced than Arkansas’ six newcomer roster.NUMBER CHANGE FOR UT: If you were following along, Alex Fuller is wearing 2 after Cait McMahan stepped down into a manager’s position. Fuller was in 44.THAT MEANS EVEN YOUNGER: Cait McMahan was one of the UT “veterans” as a redshirt sophomore.ROOKIE NUMBERS: Arkansas gets 48% of its scoring production from newcomers while the Lady Vols receive 68% from rookies.RICKETTS MAKES HISTORY: Freshman Ceira Ricketts became the first women’s basketball player in Arkansas history to record a triple double in a regular season game. We’ll make the caveat of known triple as the early year box scores are sketchy or nonexistent. Nevertheless, since modern NCAA era, only a handful of Razorbacks have come close. Most notable — Sally Moore was within an assist in 1990 against Oklahoma (18p/13r/9a) and Brittney Vaughn was within a rebound in 2006 against St. Louis (13p/9r/10a). Research continues to confirm, but the search of the likely suspects and old records Sunday evening turned up no evidence to not give the mark to the freshman.RICKETTS TIES ASSIST RECORDS: Ceira Ricketts’ 12 assists tied the Arkansas freshman class record for most assists in a game. Amy Wright held the mark with 12 against LSU in 1999. Ricketts also shares the UA mark for most assists in a regular season SEC game with Wright and Rochelle Vaughn, who had her 12 against Georgia in 2004. For the game, Ricketts had as many assists as #6 Auburn had as a team.AND, RICKETTS GETS FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: In recognition of the above notations, freshman Ceira Ricketts was selected the SEC Freshman of the Week. It is her second FOTW honor (Nov. 26), and makes her the first repeat freshman honoree in Razorback history. Additionally, she’s only the third Arkansas player to pick up two “of the week” awards from the SEC for women’s basketball. Two seasons ago, Lauren Ervin had a pair of player of the weeks and Shameka Christon had one player of the week and a co-player back in 2004.MILLIONTH FAN FOR TENNESSEE: In 33 years of women’s basketball at Arkansas, to date, 999,286 fans have attended Razorback games in Fayetteville. Arkansas entered the season with 984,206 total recorded fans (attendance records prior to 1985 are incomplete), and have registered 15,080 so far in 2008-09 for 12 home games.38 FOR 22: Ceira Ricketts turned in her season high with 38 minutes against #6 Auburn, and picked up season/career highs to date for rebounds (13) and assists (12) along with the first triple-double at Arkansas (14 points).ONCE AGAIN, DEFENSE ANSWERS THE AGE OLD QUESTION: Auburn brought the SEC’s #1 offense by virtually every statistical measure — points, margin, percentages, assists, assist-to-turnover — to Bud Walton Arena to face Arkansas’ gritty defense. Statistically, the Razorbacks won that encounter by holding the Tigers well off their averages at 70 points (80.9), .394 from the field (.481), .300 from three-point (.441) and 12 assists (16.3). Unfortunately, one of those stats still worked for Auburn with a nine-point winning margin (though well off the +21.3).RICKETTS BACK TO NO. 1: Freshman Ceira Ricketts leads the league with 2.8 steals per game. During non-conference play, Ricketts was the leader or No. 2 most of the early weeks. Her 48 total steals is also the most in the league. Nationally, Ricketts is 28th, up two spots from 30th last week.CONFERENCE NUMBERS: Tennessee’s Shekinna Stricklen (7th) and Arkansas’ Ceira Ricketts (9th) are top 10 again in the SEC scoring for the Thursday games. Whitney Jones moves up to 6th in rebounding, with UT’s Glory Johnson next at 7th.TEAMS PRETTY CLOSE: Records might indicate otherwise, but in the SEC stats Arkansas and Tennessee compare. In many key areas, they are within two or three places of each other — points scored, UT 4th, UA 7th; points allowed, UA 7th,UT 11th; margin, UT 7th, UA 9th; FG%, UT 7th, UA 10th; FG% defense, UA 6th, UT 9th.BUT, THERE ARE TWO BIG DIFFERENCES: Tennessee tops the SEC in offensive rebounding and essentially tied for first in rebound margin at +7.5 with Georgia. The Lady Vols also rank 23rd in the nation in rebound margin. Arkansas is 12th in rebound margin at -0.8, 10th in o-boards and 11th in d-boards. Arkansas has a defensive advantage when it comes to steals, ranking second in the league to Vanderbilt at 11.6 per game while the Lady Vols are 8th at 9.1.NOW 31ST IN TREYS: In spite of a string of lower than average three-point games (three, of course), Arkansas has stayed in the national top teams for three-pointers made per game. The Razorbacks are sinking 6.8 in the national stats to rank 31st, down two spots from last week’s 29th. In the SEC, Arkansas continues to lead the league. THOUSANDTH WIN NOT THURSDAY: Tennessee’ coach Pat Summitt arrives in Fayetteville with 997 career wins.SERIES: The Lady Vols lead the series 19-1 and hold a 14-game winning streak. The last and only time Arkansas defeated Tennessee was in Fayetteville for the 1996-97 season meeting. The game was actually in Dec. 29, 1996, and behind outside shooting from Kimberly Wilson and Christy Smith, the Razorbacks won 77-75. Later that Sunday evening, women’s hoops media contact Bill Smith’s daughter was born. To put it in perspective, 12-year-old Ashley is now a ball girl working the home baseline tonight.FORD REMAINS GAME-TO-GAME: Charity Ford missed the Auburn game, and is game-time decision for Tennessee. She came off the bench for a season-high at Kentucky. The junior guard had been out with a leg injury that she suffered during the holidays. She missed the Stetson game, back in the boot on her left leg. A new series of scans revealed an acute stress fracture, and she will be on the sidelines for a while. Originally, she missed the game with Missouri, and did not dress after her leg injury against Dartmouth. As dramatic as it appeared when Ford collided with a Dartmouth player and landed awkwardly on her left leg, the junior guard got a clean bill of health at the doctors. She returned to the court for Western Illinois, turning in 24 minutes. However, pain returned and MRIs were ordered, revealing the fracture.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)